Getting in the way of approaching airlines

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I'm a private pilot, last week I flew a Warrior from Hanscom to 47N
(Central NJ Regional, just outside the Western edge of the NY Class
B). My initial plan was to fly above the Class B, but clouds didn't
allow me to do that or use the only altitude in which the cleared me
through the B (6,500').

Instead, I flew 2,500' under the Class B, going around HPN and inside
CDW and MMU. I was in touch with NY Approach for flight following
throughout it all, they coordinated crossing the Class D for me.

After I left the MMU class D to the Southwest at 2,500', they told me
that I'm on the way of the airlines flying 3,000' above me, I presume
on their way to JFK. As the controller told me that I saw a 747 above
me, I told him I'll descend to 2,000, we parted ways as friends and I
switched to the UNICOM of 47N.

Here's my question. I can't figure out the approach the airlines use
for a given runway in a main airport. Where should I look that up? I
can't see anything helpful in the sectional or the low level IFR map
(maybe I'm not looking properly, I'm not IFR rated). The approach
plate offers very little help as well, but again, I might not be
looking properly. Where should I look to know where the airlines will
fly to make sure I won't get in their way or vice versa?
My concern obviously applies to the approach phase of the airlines'
flight, I'm not as concerned regarding the departure, enroute or
pre-approach arrival phases.


-- Tal Reichert, May 4, 2008


The terminal area charts for Boston and, I think, for New York, show typical airliner arrival and departures. In the case of the Boston chart, the airliner routes are on the back of the chart.

talks about this. I couldn't find an online source for this, only for the front side of the chart.

-- Philip Greenspun, May 4, 2008

To the followup question below... I'm not sure. I think it is published somewhere but probably primarily for ATC and not for pilots. There are a lot of standard arrival procedures (STARS) published for jets, but the usage of these depends on the winds and the coordinated decisions of controllers at the three big airports in New York. I think you might want to call NY TRACON and ask where these are published. They are usually quite helpful on the phone.

-- Philip Greenspun, May 4, 2008

Thanks, Philip - the link you provided gives a list of TACs that have the VFR planning, and apparently New York is not one of those (I think it has the Hudson VFR corridor instead). It is helpful though, I usually skip the TAC and use the sectional instead, maybe I should stop doing that.

Is the information hiding in any of the IFR chart or is it in the ATC procedures?

-- Tal Reichert, May 4, 2008

The absolute best way to get the answer you want is to do one of two things: 1) Call the facility that was handling you and ask them about their procedures, why they do things the way they do, etc. It will be enlightening, I guarantee it. Or, 2) Get in your car and drive to that facility and ask those questions in person. You will learn more in ten minutes standing in that controller's shoes than you ever will from a book or sitting in the "front office". I've been to a few towers and tracons. I've had a few invites into Jacksonville Center (but never had the time to go). Most facilities use departure and arrival corridors (which are not published anywhere--thus the reason you should really go see your local controller) and all traffic gets funneled through these corridors. Sorta like DPs and STARS, but very specific and local in nature.

-- Jason Hackney, May 27, 2008